As parents of six kids (ages 11 years to 7 months), my wife and I sometimes struggle to worship well together. First off, our “six little distractions” make it very difficult to get excited about going to Mass. Trying to get everyone ready and out of the door on time is quite a task! Despite popular opinion, being a deacon couple doesn’t guarantee your kids like going to church. I am amazed by the number of convenient short-term illnesses and strange pains that my children seem to mysteriously develop on Sunday mornings.
Once we have successfully left the house on Sunday morning, there arises the challenge of actually attending Mass with six kids. My wife and I whisper “shh” so many times that those around us probably think it’s how our family communicates—a language built on a series of “shh’s”, each with its own inflection and meaning. It get really old, really fast. These interruptions can also make hearing and reflecting on the readings, homily, and prayers very difficult. In those moments, I am tempted to sneak a peek at my phone and check the latest sports news.
So what is a family to do? You might not have six kids—statistically, the odds are you don’t—but if you have a child or children, there are some things you can do that can really help you celebrate the sacraments well, together. These are three things that our family has discovered out of necessity and experience that can help your family celebrate the Mass and sacraments together.
Want more tips for enhancing your family worship? Download the Three Things to Help Your Family Worship Well Tip Sheet and use to prepare for a great Sunday experience at Mass this weekend.
First, it helps to remember that sacraments are celebrations of God’s love for his entire people, not just you. The sacraments are special encounters with God, who gives us his grace so that we can love him and our neighbor as ourselves—you guessed it—more gracefully.
A good mantra to have before and during Mass is, “I am here to receive the grace I need to serve my family and my Church”
Second, celebrating the sacraments well means taking time to prepare for the celebration. If you know it will be difficult to pay attention during Mass, take time to read the Sunday readings with your spouse or the whole family before Mass. Discuss the readings. Remind children that they can listen for these readings during Mass, which will help them pay attention to the words being spoken and read.
When you pray as a family throughout the week, add the intention of “paying attention at Mass” or “enjoying Mass together”
Third, make the small investment in a children’s Bible and a children’s Mass guide. If you have particularly squirmy kids, as I do, these and other kid-friendly resources can be a great way to keep them engaged in their relationship with God without providing them with an alternative activity that will distract them from the Mass.
Kid-friendly Mass resources can be a great way to keep your children engaged in their relationship with God...
Worshiping well as a family takes some planning and some effort, but the payoff is worth it. I’ve seen my kids slowly evolve from not liking Sunday Mass, to not minding it, to sort of liking it. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress!
This post is the third in a series of three posts guest authored by Dcn. Matthew Halbach, PhD. He is the Executive Director of Catechesis for William H. Sadlier, Inc. and a a member of the USCCB National Advisory Council. He earned his PhD in Catechetics from The Catholic University of America in 2014. He is married with six children. As the “Deacon Doctor,” Deacon Halbach will be a featured guest blogger throughout the summer on the Sadlier Religion Blog on the topic of Summer, Family and Faith. If you missed them, you can read his first and second post here.